Farm Credit Visits Washington, DC
It’s been just about a year since I started at Farm Credit (wow- that went fast). As a new employee, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Washington, D.C. Experience this year, held by AgFirst. Interns and employees new to the Farm Credit system are given the chance to meet with and learn about the Farm Credit Council (FCC), the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), and their role in preserving and protecting Farm Credit’s position within rural America.
MAFC staff members were joined by other newcomers from AgChoice Farm Credit, ArborOne Farm Credit, Cape Fear Farm Credit, Farm Credit of Central Florida, Farm Credit of Florida, and Farm Credit of the Virginias. Our first day was spent in the FCC offices, where we heard from Ken Auer, the CEO of the FCC, who gave us a great overview of Farm Credit’s structure and the role FCC plays. After lunch, Jeff Shipp, the executive vice president of the FCC, gave us some examples of the misinformation shared by some of our competitors about the Farm Credit System, and what the FCC does to counteract that. The day ended with the FCC’s director of government affairs, Jenny Materio, giving us an overview on the grassroots activities taking place by the council to teach Senate and Congress staffers about what Farm Credit does and all of the great customers we serve. One of this is Farm Credit Proud (#farmcreditproud), a social media movement being used to share our stories. Jenny also taught us about Homegrown by Heroes, the new program aimed at veterans and active duty service members who are also customers of Farm Credit.
On day two of the tour, we met Colin Woodall of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) who shared with us some challenges his organization is currently facing and how they are handling them. He also explained how his organization works with Congress and Senate members to get their needs met, which is very similar to what the FCC does when it comes to agricultural issues. It’s all about educating!
We had lunch and a brief meeting in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) building. Here, we met Lillian Salerno, part of the rural development department. She explained how her team is involved with loans, loan guarantees and grants for rural community infrastructures. Lillian looks at the rural development department as “The People’s Department”, creating opportunities for people in rural areas and a staff culture of people who enjoy being in those communities, working directly with the people the USDA helps.
After lunch, we visited the Senate’s Agricultural Committee Room and talked with Joe Shultz, an economist who works with crop insurance issues, disaster programs and budget issues. He worked on the recent Farm Bill and gave an overview of all that went into developing and amending it. Takeaway: it takes a lot of patience and a LOT of revisions.
Our trip ended Wednesday with a stop at the Farm Credit Administration office. FCA is the federal agency that regulates the Farm Credit System, and all of its associations and banks. We were met by FCA director Lee Strom, followed by other FCA staffers who explained the origin of the Farm Credit system and the roles of the Office of Regulatory Policy, Office of Examination, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, and the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation.
Not only was this a fantastic learning experience, but we met some really interesting people from all of these organizations and from other Farm Credit associations. As a new employee, it gave me insight into how much goes into running our great system; things I don’t see every day, but are a part of what I do every day. I am very proud to be a part of Farm Credit, a staple in the agriculture community and an important piece of American history.